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OCLS Tutorials: Seminary Guide







Welcome to the Wesley Seminary Guide! 


This page provides information on finding and researching Bible dictionaries, commentaries, historical and cultural background information, books, articles, language resources, and ancient works. What is Research? walks you through the research and writing process. 


To navigate to the different sections use the tabs above. 


You can bookmark this page for quick access.




What is a Bible Dictionary?


A Bible Dictionary (or Bible Encyclopedia) provides important facts and background information regarding a biblical topic.  Depending on the particular dictionary, entries contain information about:

  • people (Abraham, Mary, Paul)
  • places (Jerusalem, Ephesus)
  • events (destruction of the temple, Jerusalem Council)
  • topics (persecution, family, hospitality)
  • books of the Bible (1 Peter, Galatians)
  • theological concepts (atonement, sanctification)

Theological Dictionaries: Focus on the theological meaning of concepts and words from the Bible.  Sometimes entries are listed in Greek or Hebrew.  You can use a Strong's Concordance or Interlinear Bible to identify the word if you do not know the original language.



Find Bible Dictionaries at Jackson Library



In the Library Catalog do a "Keyword" search for "bible dictionaries".

Type your search in the box below! The catalog search will pop up in a new window.

            Search the Library Catalog For Books or E-Books

Go to: Catalog | Advanced Search








Recommended Dictionaries


Theological Dictionaries








Types of Commentaries


  Technical or Critical or Exegetical:  Includes very detailed, technical discussion of text. Requires some understanding of the original languages.

International Critical Commentary
Word Biblical Commentary
New International Greek Testament Commentary
Anchor Bible 
Sacra Pagina
Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament


  Expositional or Essential or Semi-Technical:  Includes less technical, but still extensive discussion. Does not rely on readers' understanding of original languages but may refer to original languages.

New International Biblical Commentary
New International Commentary on the New Testament
New International Commentary on the Old Testament
New American Commentary
New Century Bible Commentary
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture


  Homiletical:  Intended to aid in sermon preparation.  Usually based on an English translation of the Bible.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Pillar New Testament Commentary
New American Commentary


  Devotional or Applicational:  Focuses on the basic meaning of the text and life application.

Life Application Bible Commentary
Holman Commentary
Warren W. Wiersbe Commentaries



Online Commentaries


In EBSCO eBooks, search for:

[book of the Bible] commentaries
(ie. mark commentaries, Corinthians commentaries, etc.)
Then in the left facet, find Source Type and click eBooks to select eBooks

Here are some online commentaries we have access to (click title for access):

Word Biblical Commentary
The New International Commentary on the New Testament
The New International Commentary on the Old Testament
The New American Commentary
Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching
Tyndale New Testament Commentaries


Find Commentaries at Jackson Library


Commentaries are located in two places:

Circulating Collection, 2nd floor

Reference Collection, Main floor

The general call number ranges for commentaries are:

220.7 Large sets

221-224 Old Testament

225-228 New Testament


Strategies for finding commentaries in the Catalog:


In the Library Catalog do a "Keyword" search for "[book of the Bible] commentaries".

Type your search in the box below! The catalog search will pop up in a new window.

            Search the Library Catalog For Books or E-Books

Go to: Catalog | Advanced Search








Find one relevant commentary and click on the appropriate heading listed under "Subject" (ex. Bible. Galatians -- Commentaries.)

TIP: When viewing the list of nearby subject headings, you might want to look at "Bible. Ruth -- Criticism, interpretation, etc." as well.


In the Library Catalog do a "Subject" search for:

Bible. Ruth -- Commentaries

Bible. Corinthians, 1st -- Commentaries


Type your search in the box below! The catalog search will pop up in a new window.

            Search the Library Catalog For Books or E-Books

Go to: Catalog | Advanced Search









Accessing E-Book Commentaries in the Jackson Library Online Catalog


The Jackson Library collections include a number of high quality full-text electronic (e-book) commentaries for student use. Click below for Microsoft Word and PDF instructions on how to search for e-book commentaries. These instructions include a "Material Type" sort that groups print books together and e-books together for ease of use. In a Material Type sort, e-books will be at the end of the results list.




Examples of Some Commentaries




Find Background Information at Jackson Library


     In the Library Catalog try the following searches.



Old Testament Background Information


New Testament Background Information


Bible Atlas


You can find Bible Atlases in the 220.91 section of the Reference Collection on the main floor.  

Oversized atlases are stored in the first row before the 000's.


Reference Books




Find Books and E-Books on the Bible at Jackson Library


  • Do a Subject search in one of the following formats:
    • Bible. Acts
    • Bible. Luke
    • Bible. Ruth 
    • Bible. Mark
    • Bible. Peter, 1st
  • Click on relevant subject headings to view books.
    • For example:  
    • Bible. Acts -- Criticism, interpretation, etc.



In the Library Catalog do a "Subject" search for one of the subjects above. 

Type your search in the box below! The catalog search will pop up in a new window.

            Search the Library Catalog For Books or E-Books

Go to: Catalog | Advanced Search





Examples of Books




Search ATLA



ATLA Religion Database contains journal articles, book reviews, and collections of essays in all fields of religion.  

You can also access this database at: OCLS Home Page > Article Databases > Religion > ATLA Religion Index



Search by Scripture in ATLA


  • Within ATLA, click "Scriptures" link at the top of the screen.


Conducting a SCRIPTURE seach in ATLA



  • Click "Expand" next to the book that contains your passage.


Collapsed Bible book links



  • Continue to expand until you identify your passage.  At any time, if you click on the book or chapter or verse link, ATLA will give you search results for articles on that specific book, chapter or verse.  



Search by Topic in ATLA


  • Search for a keyword about your topic combined with a Scripture Citation search for your book of the Bible (as shown below).



  • If you find one article that seems relevant, click on one of the relevant "Subjects" listed for that article in order to search for other relevant articles.




Hebrew and Aramaic Resources


Greek Resources






Ancient Authors


If you know the name of the ancient writer, do an author search in the Library Catalog to find reprinted and translated works by that author:


In the Library Catalog do an "Author" search. 

Type your search in the box below! The catalog search will pop up in a new window. 

            Search the Library Catalog For Books or E-Books

Go to: Catalog | Advanced Search





Ancient Commentary


Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture  (27 volumes)

Located on 2nd Floor and Reference (use link above)

Includes selected ancient commentary on scripture from church fathers.



Books Containing Ancient Texts




The Research Paper Process: Step by Step

1. Develop your Research Question.  You may want to think about:

What research is and what research is not and the kind of research paper you will write.
Ways you can choose a topic for your research paper.
Your paper's audience: Who you are writing to and why you are writing to them.
Whether or not you understand the assignment.

2. Decide what type of information you will use in your research.  

Will you need print or e-books?
Academic Journal articles?
Magazine or Newspaper articles?

Web sites or other multimedia?

3. Determine the kinds information you will need.  

Are you looking for current or past (historical) information?  
Will you need Primary Sources or Secondary Sources?  
Should you use Popular, Trade, or Scholarly Journals?
How will you evaluate the information you find for accuracy, audience, bias, or purpose? 

4. Start the process of writing your paper. 

Pre-Writing: Get your paper off to a good start.
Think about the entire Writing Process.

Write your Thesis Statement.
Develop an Outline.
Start your First Draft.
Proofread your First Draft.
Revise your Draft using the Revising Process.
Proofread and Revise again.

5. Avoid Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism by citing and referencing the sources you use.  

The Wesley Seminary requires that papers be written using The Chicago Manual of Style, a set of writing and citation rules. 

The Chicago Style Guide includes helpful information, example citations and references, and step-by-step directions for working with Chicago Style format.  






Forming a Research Question


Formulating a research question pyramid



Ask Open-Ended Thoughtful Questions


Good research explores a question without an easy answer. Narrowing a topic to a primary question will get your research off to the right start.
Questions require answers.
A topic is too broad to cover thoroughly, but a question has an answer.



The Influence of Drugs on Crime

Could the legalization of less harmful drugs like marijuana reduce crime in the U.S.?


Are laws requiring waiting, counseling or sonograms effective in reducing abortions?

Sports Injuries

Why do heat exhaustion deaths occur and how can they best be avoided? 

Working Women

In what fields have women achieved the greatest equality and through what means?

A question is a way of evaluating the evidence. 
A clearly stated question helps you decide what information is needed in your paper and what is not relevant.
An open-ended question calls for real research and thinking.
A question with no easy answer makes research and writing more meaningful to both you and your audience. Your research may then solve a problem or contribute to the field of knowledge.



Examples of Keyword and Subject Searches


Click Here for examples of keyword and subject searches for the following research questions:

  • What effect does divorce have on children?
  • What effect does birth order have on academic achievement?
  • Are children who play video games more likely to be violent?



Save Yourself Time. Schedule a Research Appointment with an OCLS Librarian!


Make a Research Appointment with an OCLS Librarian.  
Options include In-Person (Face to Face), phone appointments, and Zoom calls. 
For more information, call Off Campus Library Services at 1-800-521-1848



Research Help


Do you need help with a specific research topic?  Contact Off Campus Library Services and request a Personalized Search Plan!


Personalized Search Plans (PSPs) tell you where to go, what to do, and how to do it. Your PSP will suggest the best online database(s) and search term(s) to use. Depending on what kinds of information you need, your PSP might help you to find appropriate print books, e-books, or journal articles.

Each PSP includes step-by-step directions to find trusted sources for your assignments and customized to your needs.


To request your Personalized Search Plan, fill out an Online Request for Services Form and let us know your topic and what kinds of information you need – books, e-books, journal articles, websites; or, if you need peer reviewed or research-based information. 


PSP requests are answered within one (1) business daynot including weekends. Requests that are received by noon on Friday will be answered that same day.  


OCLS provides limited service on Saturday and is closed Sunday and all university holidays and holiday weekends, so we encourage you to ask for your Personalized Search Plan early in your workshop weeks whenever possible.


Doctor of Ministry Research Project Guide




Mon-Thur: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday: 9:30 am - 2:00 pm
Sunday: Closed

Librarians may not be available all open hours, but will answer ASAP.